Family:   Brassicaceae

Synonyms: Cardamine hirsuta subsp. Hirsute, Cardamine hirsuta var. formosana, Cardamine multicaulis, Cardamine scutata var. formosana, Cardamine umbrosa.

Common Name: Hairy Bittercress

Local Name: Gujjar ghas (गुज्जर घास)

Gujjar ghas is an annual plant of Western Himalaya which found growing upto an altitudinal range of 700- 2500 meters. It is with finely lobed leaves showing symmetrical rosette arrangement.

Gujjar ghas growing on rocky habitat
Image showing habitat of gujjar ghas
Gujjar ghas growing on wasteland

Plant is commonly seen growing on bare soil, light grass, cracks in paths, on walls, rocks and open or cultivated ground in shady to semi-shady habitat. Gujjar ghas is propagated by seeds and can grow anywhere without any care, so normally it considered as a weed to be removed.

Gujjar ghas a mature plant.

Young leaves and flowers of gujjar ghas are edible and eaten both raw or cooked. Plant is used as a potherb alone or along with other available winter green.

It is considered as the best tasting winter weed. Leaves are best to use fresh in salad and as garnishing or flavoring agent for its aroma in various food items, cooking however remove aroma to some extent.

Gujjar ghas is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and fodder.

Gujjar ghas Plant:

Plant is an annual herb, up to 50 cm tall.

Stems is simple, diffuse much branched, erect or creeping at base.

A plant of gujjar ghas

Leaves are small, green and rounded growing in opposite pairs along the leaf stem with one single, usually larger, finishing or terminal leaf at the end. These are variable, glabrous or hairy; basal leaves forming a rosette, imparipinnate, petioled; leaflets 5-13, orbicular or ovate, irregularly toothed or lobed; cauline leaves petioled or subsessile; leaflets lanceolate, narrowly oblong or obovate, toothed or lobed.

Inflorescence racemose or sub corymbose, 10-20- flowered.

Flowers white, delicate, white, four petaled flowers growing in small groups at the top of a vertical stem.

Fruits cylindrical, somewhat compressed.

Edible leaves of gujjar ghas can be best harvested from pre-winter to pre- summer season of the year and flowers are available full spring. Plant show luxuriant growth and usually considered a weed to be removed here in Western Himalaya. Inhabitant  of this region  rarely use  this plant as a food. For many of them it is only a weed or ghas (Fodder). Very few are aware about its food value that it is loaded with vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, beta carotene, antioxidants and sulfur-containing compounds that boost immunity and help in cancer prevention. So, plant need to be promoted as favorite wild winter green and should be harvested sustainable for ensuring sustainable development.

Harvesting gujjar ghas

Edible Uses:

Fresh young leaves and flowers of gujjar ghas are used to garnish recipes and eaten in salad. Plant is used as a potherb and cooked as ‘saag’ alone or along with other available winter green.

Leafy Vegetable (saag):

Ingredients:

Young leaves  and tender shoot tips with flowers alone or with other available winter greens, 1 kg; mustard oil, 2 table spoons; coriander powder 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed ¼ table spoon; turmeric powder, 1/4 table spoon; red chilies, 2-3; chopped onions 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon and salt according to taste.

Collected leaves of gujjar ghas

Method:

Boil chopped leaves and flowers they become soft.  Then mesh manually or in a mixer. Then sauté with hot mustard oil and the spices listed before in sequence. This sauted saag is then ready and can be served as such or can be mixed with 2 or 3 chopped onion and cooked for another 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Saag made up of young leaves of gujjar ghas

 Kachru:

Ingredients:

 Chopped tender shoot tip, young leaves and fresh flowers of gujjar ghas , 1kg; besan (black gram flour) or corn flour, 1/2 kg; fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 1 cup amount; caraway, 1/2 table spoon; green chilies, 2-3; turmeric powder, ½ table spoon; chopped medium sized onions, 2-3 and salt according to taste.

Method:

Make a paste of plant parts, besan or corn flour and spices. Heat some oil on a flat heating pan. Put some paste over a pan and make it flat by pressing with fingers. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Kachru will be ready to serve. Repeat this process for rest of the paste.

Rayata:

Ingredients:

1/2 kg fresh leaves, 1 Kg curd, 1 cup fresh coriander leaves (chopped), 3-5 green chillies, a pinch of black pepper powder, 1 table spoon rai powder, 2-3 medium sized chopped onions and salt according to taste.

Method:

Add finely chopped leaves to curd with ingredients listed above for preparing rayata or give a shallow fry to these boiled flowers in hot oil with onion and other spices listed above, before adding to curd. Garnish recipe with coriander, Mentha piperta, Oxalis corniculata and Rumex hastata leaves Now rayata is ready to serve.

Gujjar ghas leaves rayata

Nutrition value:

Per 100 g of fresh leaves contain;Moisture; 92.89 g,  Ash; 1.78 g, Fat; 0.239 g, Fiber;1.64 g, Protein; 3.99,  Carbohydrate; 1.70 g, Calorific value;  22.45 kcal.

Minerals (mg/100 g dried sample) Na; 100.48, K ;10462.28, Ca; 6.20, Mg; 5.60, Fe; 6.10, Cu; 1.62, Zn; 0.30, Mn; 0.64, Ni; 3.60, Cr; 0.87 , Co; 0.57, Se; 1.83.Pb; 0.86.

Plant is also rich source of phenolic, flavonoid and vitamin C. (Basumatary & Narzary; 2017).

Medicinal values:

Gujjar ghas is loaded with vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron, beta carotene, phenolic, flavonoid, antioxidants and sulfur-containing compounds that boost immunity and help in cancer prevention.

Other Uses:

Plant is used as fodder. 

References:

  1. Basumatary, S., & Narzary, H. (2017). Nutritional value, phytochemicals and antioxidant property of six wild edible plants consumed by the Bodos of North-East India. Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 10(3), 259-271.

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